Tony Jones said Tennessee's legal counsel advised the former men's basketball staff to answer only the questions asked by the NCAA and not elaborate in their interviews with investigators in the summer of 2010.
Jones, formerly UT's associate head coach and the current Alcoa boys' coach, was one of three assistants charged with a major violation for "failure to furnish full and complete information relevant to the investigation,'' according to a Feb. 23 UT press release.
It was one of eight alleged major violations by the men's basketball staff that led to their dismissal on March 21.
Specifically, Jones and former Vols coaches Jason Shay and Steve Forbes didn't offer background information about a photo capturing an impermissible contact between former coach Bruce Pearl and then-committed Aaron Craft taken at Pearl's home on Sept. 20, 2008.
"(Attorney) Michael Glazier advised all of us coaches to just answer the questions that were being asked and do not elaborate on anything,'' Jones said Tuesday. "The question that was posed to me was, did I recognize where this grainy photo of Bruce Pearl and Aaron Craft was taken; there was a microwave in the background."
Jones' settlement with UT restricted him from commenting on the case while being paid through July 31.
"We have a microwave in the Pratt Pavilion, where Aaron was also around Bruce, so I could not say for certain that the picture was taken at Bruce's house,'' he said. "I was being truthful, and I answered the question to the best of my recollection.''
UT went before the NCAA Committee on Infractions on June 10 and is awaiting word of its sanctions.
In its 190-page official response to the NCAA dated May 20, UT summarized the basketball findings as such: "Sadly, this became a case of a head coach and his assistants following a somewhat correctable secondary violation with a series of bad decisions.''
Pearl fired back through his attorney, Steve Thompson, who told the News Sentinel that Glazier had a copy of the now infamous photo six days before
the NCAA interview took place and didn't share it with the former staff until minutes before the interview.
Glazier, based in the Overland Park, Kan., office of Bond, Schoeneck and King law firm, worked closely with UT throughout its NCAA dealings. Glazier could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
"Because of the NCAA stipulations, we can't comment on the specifics of the case, but we have been very pleased with our legal counsel,'' said UT vice chancellor for communications Margie Nichols.
Jones, obviously, doesn't share that opinion.
"It has been difficult to sit back and not comment on what really happened, knowing that things reported haven't included all the facts,'' Jones said. "I was never charged with lying to the committee or unethical conduct. I was charged with not being forthcoming.''
Jones said he is indeed guilty of making many of the 96 impermissible phone calls that added up to another major violation.
"There was an excess number of phone calls made, and I made the majority of those calls to a family that was in dire straits where I was trying to reach out and help the family of a current player,'' Jones said. "I take full accountability for that transgression. That's not something I would repeat again, but the young man is in good standing and has turned his life around. For that, I'm proud.''
According to NCAA case documents, 44 of the 96 impermissible calls were made to Vols rising junior Kenny Hall during his junior year of high school. Jones placed 39 of the calls, some to Halls' divorced mother, who Jones said was helping her son cope with a move from California to Georgia.
Shay and Forbes, now coaches at NCJAA Division I Northwest Florida State College, also were involved in the "failure to furnish full and complete information" violation.